Unmarried heart patients face higher risk of death

December 20, 2017, American Heart Association
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Compared to married heart disease patients, being unmarried was associated with a higher risk of dying, according to new research in Journal of the American Heart Association, the Open Access Journal of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Scientists have known that divorced individuals are at increased risk for death in general. However, few studies have evaluated the relationship between adverse cardiovascular outcomes and marital status in with known or suspected .

The study of 6,051 patients (average age 63, 23 percent black) undergoing cardiac catheterization for coronary artery disease, is the first to show poor outcomes specifically among those who were divorced, separated, widowed or never married.

Patients were followed for 3.7 years. Researchers found that compared to married patients, being unmarried was associated with:

  • 24 percent higher risk of death from any cause;
  • 45 percent higher risk of death from cardiovascular disease; and
  • 52 percent higher risk of cardiovascular death/heart attack.

And specifically, the risk of cardiovascular death/heart attack was:

  • 40 percent higher for those who were never married;
  • 41 percent higher for those who were divorced or separated; and
  • 71 percent higher for those who had been widowed.

1,085 deaths were reported in this study (including 688 cardiovascular deaths and 272 heart attacks) during the follow-up.

"I was somewhat surprised by the magnitude of the influence of being married has (on heart patients)," said Arshed Quyyumi, M.D., lead researcher and co-director of Emory Clinical Cardiovascular Research Institute and professor of medicine at Emory University in Atlanta. "Social support provided by marriage, and perhaps many other benefits of companionship, are important for people with ."

Unmarried individuals were more likely to be female and black, have hypertension, heart failure, or high cholesterol and less likely to be smokers compared with the married patients.

Researchers suggest that it may be important to consider marital status in treating coronary artery disease patients. Psychological conditions associated with being unmarried and potentially more aggressive follow-up and therapy needs to be considered in future studies.

Patients with severe heart valve damage, anemia, congenital disease, cancer or active inflammatory were excluded from this study. Marital status was determined from self-administered questionnaires. Divorced and separated people were combined into one group for this study. Telephone interviews and medical chart abstractions were used to identify adverse outcomes.

Researchers suggest the study be interpreted with caution as it is a retrospective analysis conducted at a single institution and did not follow-up regarding continued . The findings cannot be applied to the general population without . In addition, the study did not consider cohabitation.

Explore further: Married patients with heart disease have better survival rates

More information: Journal of the American Heart Association (2017). DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.117.005890

Related Stories

Married patients with heart disease have better survival rates

August 28, 2017
Marriage is a vital factor affecting the survival of patients who have had a heart attack, as well as the survival of patients with the most important risk factors, according to research presented today at ESC Congress.

Higher risk of dying due to heart cell damage without any symptoms occurs during or after non-heart surgery

December 4, 2017
Surgery that doesn't involve the heart may cause damage to the heart in people with known or at high risk of developing heart disease and was associated with an increased risk of death, according to new research in the American ...

Follow-up cholesterol testing reduces risk of reocurrence for heart attack and stroke patients

November 13, 2017
If you have a heart attack or stroke, it's important to get your "bad" cholesterol measured by your doctor on a follow up visit. Researchers have found that one step is significantly associated with a reduced risk of suffering ...

Heart attack and stroke patients prescribed statin medication upon discharge have better outcomes

November 12, 2017
Patients with a prior history of heart attacks or stroke have better outcomes when cholesterol-lowering medications are used after they're discharged from the hospital, according to a new study from the Intermountain Medical ...

Low socioeconomic status associated with higher risk of second heart attack or stroke

August 27, 2016
Low socioeconomic status is associated with a higher risk of a second heart attack or stroke, according to research presented at ESC Congress 2016 today. The study in nearly 30 000 patients with a prior heart attack found ...

Women with mild heart blockage report poorer health, more anxiety and negativity than men

February 21, 2017
Women with mild blockage of coronary arteries report poorer health, more anxiety and a more negative outlook than men with the same condition, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal Circulation: ...

Recommended for you

Resolvin D-1 limits kidney damage after heart attacks

February 20, 2018
A heart attack triggers an acute inflammatory response at the damaged portion of the heart's left ventricle. If this acute inflammation lingers, it can lead to stretching of the ventricle and heart failure. The inflammation ...

Stroke drug demonstrates safety in clinical trial

February 20, 2018
A preliminary Phase 2 clinical trial has demonstrated that patients with acute ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, can safely tolerate high doses of 3K3A-APC, a promising anti-stroke drug invented at The Scripps ...

Women once considered low risk for heart disease show evidence of previous heart attack scars

February 20, 2018
Women who complain about chest pain often are reassured by their doctors that there is no reason to worry because their angiograms show that the women don't have blockages in the major heart arteries, a primary cause of heart ...

Can your cardiac device be hacked?

February 20, 2018
Medical devices, including cardiovascular implantable electronic devices could be at risk for hacking. In a paper publishing online today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the American College of Cardiology's ...

A drug long used to treat gout may help adult heart failure patients

February 20, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine have shown that probenecid, a drug long used to treat gout, may be able to improve heart function in adult patients who experience heart failure.

Number of obese years not—just obesity—a distinct risk factor for heart damage

February 20, 2018
In an analysis of clinical data collected on more than 9,000 people, Johns Hopkins researchers have shown that the number of years spent overweight or obese appear to "add up" to a distinct risk factor that makes those with ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.